Saturday, September 25, 2004



Below is a piece of editing work that I rather enjoyed writing...some of you will be familiar with the story behind this.

The names have been removed to protect the innocent, coddle the guilty, and shield innocent by-standers from unwanted intrusions of reality into their sacred golden bubble.

BTW, it worked.

Dear _____,

Gene here, hoping you have two ticks to field a longer e-mail from me, because I wanted to touch base with you on a number of developments. I'm pretty happy with the way this next issue is shaping up, and I've managed to get a couple of nibbles on my own work as well recently, which is kind of exciting. Thing is, I am going to have to find some time in the near future to actually write some creative stuff, because although this last year has been very good on that front, I haven't done nearly as much as I'd like. Still, the Trip does leave me with a pleasant glow once a quarter, so I'm good.

I'm not sure if I told you, but our Spotlight this next issue is __________--I was put in touch with him by a previous spotlight, and though I am more familiar with his reputation as a showman than as a poet, his work in putting venues for poetry together is something I've been following since he was part of the __________, way the hell back when--how many worlds between me now and me then? I was an Okie kid reading Kerouac and Spin magazine during lunch breaks at my factory job at the time, dreaming of far off cities, so there's a part of me that's agog that I've even managed to talk to him to the depth that I have. Much as with the interview with you, which was by far the highest-profile interview I'd ever conducted 'til that date. I suspect no matter how much I manage to move forward into the world of poetry and writing, there will always be that part of me that's still that awe-struck Okie boy, amazed at the power of language in some people's mouths. In any case, conducting the interview with ________ was a blast, and putting links to the many names he sent my direction was an education in itself. It is, truth be told, the reason these interviews appeal to me--I learn more than any of those reading the thing could possibly learn. The whole thing was made even jucier (for me, at least) for the fact that he's based in New York, and our conversations provided the bread to a sandwich that included his own efforts during the recent protests there surrounding the RNC (thus providing me, with, among other things, the opportunity to link to such high-profile protest groups as Billionaires for Bush and the Missile Dick Chicks).

Between that and public congratulations for your prize, I suspect we'll get one or two more readers--and hopefully a few contributors among them.

I did, of course, have something in mind besides a rather meandering reflection on the state of the poet, but I have to be honest, I'm not sure how best to approach the subject. To keep it short, and please hear me out, the biography you submitted is a bit provocative. I suspect you knew this, and I want to say, before I go any further, that I fully sympathize with what it's saying, and I respect, and will honor, your right to say whatever you want to in that context. Before committing this bio to the formatting process, though, I wanted to ask you, in all honesty, if you think this is the most effective way to get your word out. See, I'm a decided voter, and I've decided, much as I have always been forced to, for the lesser of what I perceive as two evils. And while con-baiting does provide me with a certain visceral pleasure, I have to say, at this point in the whole process, I'm so sick to the eyeballs with both sides of the argument that I find myself too often looking toward the stars, placing the whole thing in that context (which makes it seem so, so tiny), and hoping against hope that there is intelligent life out there somewhere, and that it will deem it worthwhile to come down here and save us from ourselves. I know the issues--I know how deeply they run, and like many, I've reached a level of frustration that defies my ability to shape it in words. So it takes the form of hope, and a pinched nose at the polls. As hard as it is to believe, though, I know there are others out there who still do need to be reached, who still do need to be persuaded to pick the less evil, and I'd like to do my small part to help that happen.

So. Here's what I'm thinking, and I want to run it by you to see how far off base I am. I don't expect many turn to Triplopia for political information, nor would I expect them to--it is, first and foremost, a poetry magazine. I'd take John Ashcroft's poems if he wrote something compelling, and I'd take the bio along with them. I value the freedom of expression that much (and that really is saying something...because I really, really dislike John Ashcroft). I don't see my personal political agenda as being at all to the point, so if you feel you need the bio to take this shape, it will. I think, however, that the cause behind the third and fourth sentences of the bio, as it stands, may be better served if we are able to present the reader with cogent, easily accessed evidence of your own action on these fronts. As you know, from past work with you, we try to make all possible use of the hyperlink, and we would do so with any groups with which you are currently involved, and for which you might provide us with information. In addition, we would be more than ready to provide the reader with any information regarding recent work, either freely available or for purchase. To that end, I've already swung by the ______ website, and although the article is not at present available there, information regarding the purchase of that article is, and I am already planning on a link to that site. Incidentally, the _______ article is, I think, a most effective means of informing people of the real issues, which, as your area of study in that article implies, is global in nature, and reaches further back in history than last month--or even last decade. I admire anyone who is committed to getting word out on the very real, widespread abuses by the current global powers in Less Developed Nations, a historical trend that does much to validate the assertions contained in the fourth sentence of your current bio.

I am with you in spirit on this one--Monsanto is a curse word in my household--so I do want to see what you have to say succeed with people who otherwise might not know. What I am suggesting is simply a subtler, but potentially much more effective means of achieving the same goal. I am not certain of precisely what areas of activism you are currently engaging--I know you are an animal rights activist, and a peace activist, but I don't, at present, know what means you employ to put that activism into action. For me, this is a bit like poetry itself, which, for this reader, at least, is much more effective when the concepts are firmly coiled inside immediate, tactile, and accessible physical realities, ones that I can reproduce in my own experience, and with my own senses. Similarly, in activism, if I have a sense of where I could go to translate into action my own deeply felt frustrations at the current state of humanity, the lesson, at least potentially, burrows much more deeply into my being, and creates an individual whose commitment is much stronger, and much more effective, than would a strongly worded statement of opinion by any one person, no matter how high a level of esteem I might bestow upon that individual.

Anyway, this is long, and I hope that it results in a constructive exchange of ideas, rather than becoming victim to the same quite justifiable level of frustration that those who think like you and I feel toward the prospect of another 4 years of the United States under the Bush regime. It is, of course, my sincere hope that you take these suggestions in the spirit they are offered, and that I might hear back from you in the very near future.

_______, I need to attend to a couple other correspondences before this morning is out, so I'm going to leave it there. I send you all hopes for peace, for justice, and for the realization of a world that better understands the fundamental value of life than the one we currently inhabit. Let's work together to nudge this old world in that direction, so that there'll be one less befuddled poet whose only source of hope entails looking to the stars, and understanding the heavy odds we face as a species. Whaddya say?

Peace to you,


Nicely put.
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